Politics & Government

State officials threaten lawsuit if Trump ends ‘Dreamers’ program

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference following a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Inslee and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, have threatened legal action if President Donald Trump ends protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a news conference following a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Inslee and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, have threatened legal action if President Donald Trump ends protections for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. AP

Leaders in Washington state are threatening to sue the federal government if President Donald Trump ends a program that protects immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.

According to several reports, Trump is expected to announce Tuesday that he will cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after a six-month delay.

Instituted under former President Barack Obama, the DACA program has protected about 800,000 young immigrants from being deported, giving those so-called “Dreamers” two-year work permits that allow them to work legally in the United States.

Top Washington state officials said Monday that they would fight back in court if necessary to keep the program in place. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he would file suit to to “halt this cruel and illegal policy and defend DACA recipients.”

“We have been working closely with legal teams around the country, and we expect to be joined by other states in this action,” Ferguson, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement.

“As Attorney General, I will use all the legal tools at my disposal to defend the thousands of Dreamers in Washington state.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to maintain protections for DACA recipients. More than 17,000 of the young immigrants benefiting from the program live in Washington state, the Democratic governor said.

“The ‘build a wall’ and ‘deport them all’ mentality in the White House is an affront to the principles this nation was founded on and an irresponsible response to our outdated immigration system,” Inslee said in a statement. “Congress must seize this urgent challenge and stand up for Dreamers, now.”

Inslee added: “Washington state will consider every option possible to challenge the repeal of DACA, including legal action, coordination with other states and any executive action that could help protect Dreamers.”

To qualify for the DACA program, immigrants had to prove they arrived before they were 16 and had been living in the United States for several years without committing a crime.

No matter what Trump does, his administration could face legal action because of his decision.

Tuesday marks the deadline by which a group of conservative state attorneys general has threatened to sue the Trump administration unless it begins to phase out the DACA program.

In a letter sent June 29, the 10 Republican attorneys general joined Republican Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho in stating that the DACA program was unlawful because it wasn’t authorized by Congress.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209, @melissasantos1

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